News World As many as 20 people feared buried in Italian bridge rubble

As many as 20 people feared buried in Italian bridge rubble

italian bridge collapse missing
The search through the tonnes of rubble continues. Photo: Getty
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As many as 20 people are feared missing in the rubble of the Italian bridge, which collapsed this week leaving at least 38 people dead.

Searchers continue to laborious task of combing through tonnes of debris left when Genoa’s Morandi Bridge plummeted some 50 metres with more than 30 vehicles on Tuesday.

Genoa chief prosecutor Francesco Cozzi told reporters Friday morning (AEST) “there could be 10 to 20 persons still missing”.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini said it has been difficult to come up with an exact number as some of those reported missing by loved ones might actually be holidaymakers who reached their destination and have not contacted family or friends in recent days.

Authorities have announced plans for a state funeral for the victims to be held on Saturday morning local time in the north-western city, with the day designated as one of national mourning.

The ceremony will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the Genoa archbishop.

A day earlier, the Italian cabinet approved a 12-month state of emergency for the area.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte said his government will not wait until prosecutors finish investigating the collapse to withdraw the concession from the main private company that maintains Italy’s highways, Atlantia.

The company responsible for the bridge said it would take “rigorous action” if it emerges that any of its staff were in any way responsible for the fatal incident.

Autostrade said it is cooperating with authorities on the investigation and conducting its own internal inquiry into the collapse.

Responding to interior minister Matteo Salvini’s appeal for the company to give the families of victims a concrete response, the company said “our apologies are in our words and deeds”.

It added that managers are working to facilitate rescue operations, restore traffic circulation to an acceptable level and come up with a plan to reconstruct the bridge as soon as possible.

Survivors of the collapse have described the moment the road fell away beneath them.

Former professional soccer player Davide Capello said he was driving across the bridge on Tuesday when “I heard a heavy sound, and I saw cars in front of me falling”.

He added: “I saw the road collapse then I fell with them. I thought it was all over for me.”

But he said he suffered only minor injuries because his car fell between concrete blocks that formed a sort of protection from further damage.

A French woman, identified only as Leonine, said she was travelling across the bridge with her husband and three-year-old son at the time of the collapse.

She said: “We saw the pylon go completely to the right, and we realised what was happening.”

They tried to reverse the car, then “opened our doors, took our son out of his car seat and then left, running until the tunnel”.

A 20 million-euro ($31 million) project to upgrade the bridge’s safety had already been approved prior to the collapse, with public bids to be submitted by September.

-with AAP